• Monday, April 10, 2023 1:39 PM | Michelle Suzuki (Administrator)

    March 23, 1937 - April 4, 2023

    Breedlove Family Media Contact: “LandSpeed” Louise Ann Noeth louise@landspeedproductions.biz

    American five-time World Record Setter Norman Craig Breedlove, Senior, 86, the first person to surpass speed marks faster than 400-, 500- and 600- miles per hour, died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in Rio Vista, CA.

    “He was an American treasure,” said wife Yadira Breedlove. “Our hearts are heavy today letting him go, but we also acknowledge Craig’s courage and bravery seeking motorsports honors for the United States of America. For decades, his deeds touched many, many people around the world.”

    Personally, Mrs. Breedlove, aka “Yadi”, added, “I shared my life with a wonderful man that I will always admire; he filled me with deep, abiding love. My intelligent, strong, happy, brave, humble husband saw life with great positivity and was always full of so many projects! For 20 years I have known joyful love, complicity, respect, and learned so much by his side. He will forever stay in my heart!”

    Son Norman credits his father with demonstrating how to shepherd dreams
    “What I admired most about dad was his tenaciousness,” he said. “He simply would not accept rejection and repeatedly went back to people and companies until he got a “yes”.

    Of equal importance was his father’s exceptionally high quality of workmanship. “He built things as if they were pieces of art,” recalled Breedlove junior. “He taught me to always ‘give it my best’ reminding me that ‘if you are going to build it, build it to last’

    The “Breedlove stamp of approval” endures. He taught to care about what I do,” said his son. “I’m so gonna miss him.”

    Breedlove Senior’s humble hunt for speed began in his teens spending four years rebuilding a junk three-window ’34 Ford Coupe. In 1955, at age 18 and without any fanfare, he collected his first time slip on the Bonneville Salt Flats at 152.80MPH in Class Coupe and Sedan.

    Inspired deeply by the line from JFK’s ’61 Inauguration Speech “Ask what you can do for your country” Breedlove put the words into jet-powered action reclaiming world honors for the USA on August 5, 1963, with a 407MPH mark.

    Dethroning Britain’s John Cobb, it was the first time an American’s name was on top since 1928 when Ray Keech posted a 207.552MPH record driving his “White Triplex.”

    “It was the most patriotic thing I could think of,” Breedlove often recalled. “I wanted a name every American could be proud of, and “Spirit of America” seemed like a natural.”

    This ushered in years of record-setting swaps with brothers Art Arfons, Tom Green and Walt Arfons driving their “Green Monster” jet cars.

    “Their rivalry made each other,” offered Tim Arfons, son of Breedlove’s long-time rival Art Arfons. “Without each other I think they might have ended up as a historical footnote instead of splashing the front pages of newspapers worldwide for years.”

    Breedlove’s astonishing accomplishments inspired The Beach Boys to include the song “Spirit of America” as a tribute to him on their 1963 “Little Deuce Coupe” album. All Breedlove’s jet-powered cars carried the same name through his 60 year-racing career.

    Blue Flame rocket car driver Gary Gabelich ended Breedlove’s hold on the absolute World Record when he clocked a 622MPH record in 1970, but it did nothing to weaken their bond. In his 1971 book, Spirit of America, Winning the World's Land Speed Record Breedlove inscribed:

    “To Gary, With my admiration and sincere gratitude for your friendship and help. Always.

    Breedlove was voted into Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (1993), Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame (1995), International Motorsports Hall of Fame (2000), Automotive Hall of Fame (2009). He earned life membership in the Bonneville 200MPH Club (1963)

    In addition to his wife Yadira, Breedlove is survived by sister Cindy Bowman, children son Norman Craig (Stacy), daughters Dawn Marie and the late Chris Maureen Breedlove, grandchildren Stephanie Finnegen, Thomas Perry, Liana Perry, Tara Van Wieren, Brook (Breedlove) Hart, and great grandchildren Jacob Thomas, Presley Perry, Parker Perry, Paige Perry, Brenton Hall, Ryan Hart, Wren Hart and godson Luis Portilla Figueroa.

  • Friday, April 07, 2023 3:59 PM | Michelle Suzuki (Administrator)

    It is with an amalgam of appreciation, respect, melancholy and sadness that we advise the passing of Chuck Koch, longtime and founding MPG member. He was born in Glendale, California on April 11, 1946, passing away of natural cause on January 6, 2023.  Chuck spent his virtually his entire adult working career in automotive journalism and public relations; earning serious chops on both sides of that aisle.

    Charles Frederick Koch was an LA area guy, and car guy, from the beginning, growing up in the San Fernando Valley areas of Burbank and Van Nuys, California. Prior to its current location in Malibu, Pepperdine University was located in Watts, and is where Chuck earned his BA degree in Journalism.  He ultimately landed at Petersen Publishing Company becoming a staff features editor at Motor Trend, although he occasionally contributed to other titles.  It was there that he deeply connected with MT’s Editor in Chief, the late Eric Dahlquist, Sr., forging a lifelong friendship and working relationship.  When Dahlquist elected to leave Petersen and form his own media relations and product placement firm, Vista Group, Koch joined him in that pursuit.  During his decades long career in PR, Chuck worked with many clients, including nearly all GM divisions, in the launch of countless new vehicles and the execution of events.  He was also involved in several motorsports promotion activities.

    Chuck was on deck for the formation of the organization -- International Motor Press Association West -- that ultimately grew into today’s Motor Press Guild.  He was a longtime board member and officer considered by many to be a somewhat conservative but always thoughtful voice of logic in MPG operations;. During my decade on the MPG board, including my time as President and Vice President, Chuck was on the board the entire time, and always supported and promoted the organization.

    Koch never married, although he engaged in several long term relationships over time, and had no children. At his passing he was 76. Any donations in his name may be made to Parkinson's Resource Organization 

    https://www.parkinsonsresource.org/ in his honor, as Chuck was one of the founders of this organization.  A memorial service will be held at his church, Calvary Presbyterian in Glendale at 11:00 am on March 11th, 2023.

    Rest In Speed, Brother Chuck

    Picture 1

    Matt Stone, Camarillo, California

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